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Pochettino realising difficult task at Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino has now realised that his task at Chelsea is far from simple. He is worried about his midfield with Jorginho now...

Mauricio Pochettino has now realised that his task at Chelsea is far from simple. He is worried about his midfield with Jorginho now at Arsenal, Kante leaving for the Middle East, Kovacic heading for Manchester City, Mason Mount almost out of the door along with Ruben Loftus-Cheek. I also keep being told that Conor Gallagher does not see his future at Stamford Bridge. Pochettino said this week, “I am concerned because the combination of Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho was one of the main strengths of the club.”

Pochettino picked up his first signing on Tuesday with Christopher Nkunku joining from RB Leipzig on a six year contract. Chelsea paid £50million for his signature. Nkunku is a proven goalscorer and can play across the frontline scoring 23 goals in 36 matches in 22/23. He said, “Having played in Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, I now want to play in the Premier League, the strongest league in the world. I am very excited for this challenge and will be proud to wear the Chelsea shirt.” His arrival puts more pressure on the Blues to sell Kai Havertz.

Chelsea are also in touch with Portugese club Porto and have joined Manchester United in their pursuit of goalkeeper Diogo Costa to replace outgoing Edouard Mendy.

Timber keen on Emirates move

Arsenal Director of Sport Edu has returned to Dutch club Ajax to register an improved offer for defender Jurrien Timber. Their opening bid of £30million was rejected by Ajax who won’t enter discussions for less than £50million. Timber has told Ajax he wants to move to the Emirates Stadium and personal terms are not a problem. Mikel Arteta wants to strengthen his defence and Timber can play at either right back or centre back. The 22-year-old was included in the Dutch World Cup squad and played four times and has 15 full international caps. If Timber joins the Gunners he could line up alongside William Saliber in a new centre-back pairing which would be a powerful defence in Arteta’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

The Gunners will listen to offers for centre midfielder Thomas Partey despite two years remaining on his contract. Granit Xhaka’s £13 million move to Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen is well advanced and if Partey also goes it will signal a major midfield overhaul with Declan Rice Arsenal’s prime target.

It’s a high Kai five for Havertz at Gunners

Kai Havertz and Mikel Arteta have their wishes granted…Arteta’s first big signing of the summer will be Kai Havertz and a £67.5 million deal has been done with Chelsea. The 24-year-old German forward, who pushed for the move, scored 32 goals in 139 games for the Blues.

Balogun: “Play me or sell me”

21-year-old Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun had a showdown with coach Mikel Arteta and said, “Play me or sell me.” Balogun scored 21 goals on loan at French club Reims last season and is how being pursued by Italian giants Juventus. Arteta is looking for another striker to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is likely to leave and no longer plays a significant part of his plans for next season. Balogun also plays for the USA national side and scored his first goal for them last Sunday in a win over Canada. He told Arteta, “I know I have two years left on my contract but I definitely will not go out on loan again.” He admitted that he does not know what will happen and the two are scheduled to talk again.

Brighton complete hat-trick of signings

Brighton have signed Germany midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. The 27-year-old is joining on a four year contract on July 1st and he is the third player to join the Seagulls alongside Joao Pedro and James Milner who has left Liverpool.

Saudi clubs target more top players

After disappointing most clubs he has played for there appears to be an escape door opening for Romelu Lukaku. The Chelsea trio of Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are being targeted by Saudi clubs who are desperate to be accepted on the soccer world stage and are spending furiously to raise their profile by capturing some of the biggest stars. Lukaku, I understand, met with officials from Al-Hilal in Paris to discuss terms. The big Belgium striker would prefer to stay with Inter Milan however they have informed Lukaku’s owners Chelsea that financially they cannot afford to buy him permanently at the moment. Chelsea’s £300k a week midfield star is likely to join Al-ittihad when his contract expires at the end of this month. Having rejected new terms at Stamford Bridge I understand he has been offered £86 million a year in Saudi. Al-Ahli are also interested in Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez who is part of the current first team squad but was left out of the FA Cup final and the Champions League final and he is seriously considering his future.

Bournemouth promise speed, aggression and high energy

After securing Premier League status for next year, Bournemouth’s sacked coach Gary O’Neil has every reason to be disappointed. He was called at 6am and told of his fate which has shocked most people at the club. His replacement Andoni Iraola is tipped to be the new Mikel Arteta such is his respect in Spain. Iraola heralds from the Spanish Basque country as did Arteta and he played with him in the local youth football teams. He plays an aggressive attacking football at full speed with fast wingers and high energy. He is a fans delight for exciting football. At 40 years-of-age he boasts an excellent list of achievements at Rayo Vallecano. He speaks good English and almost joined Leeds in February. He finished his career playing with Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa in America and was coached by Patrick Viera who used him as a defensive midfielder. To emphasize his quality his Rayo team defeated Real Madrid, Sevilla and Vilarreal last season operating with the smallest budget in La Liga. Bournemouth are on the verge of signing Dutch winger Justin Kluivert, 24, who is the son of Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert.

Faewell to N’Golo, the maestro

Bidding farewell to N’Golo Kante in the Premier League is a bitter pill to swallow. The diminutive 5ft 6” maestro has graced our game and thrilled Chelsea fans for nearly seven years. Prior to that he helped Leicester win that famous title championship in 2016 and then Chelsea moved to take him to Stamford Bridge. He has won everything any footballer could wish for: Premier League (2016 & 17), FA Cup, Europa League, Champions League, Nations League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the most coveted of all, a World Cup winners medal. Kante has made 507 interceptions since his debut for Leicester in 2015 which is more than any other player. At Leicester Jamie Vardy used to joke that N’Golo loved losing the ball in training so he could win it back and indeed he regained possession 1,711 times in matches which is the second highest after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Kante ran the Chelsea midfield with his magnificent reading of a game, always being in the right place at the right time and driving his team forward. At 32 years-of-age his course had probably run at Chelsea and injuries have been a problem of late. Now he moves to the lucrative pitches of Saudi Arabia where he will probably play for two or three more years earning big bucks. I salute one of the games very best, a quiet, unpretentious player who always made eye contact with supporters as he ran down the line…I wish him well and we will all miss him on a Saturday afternoon.

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